1977 GMC Palm Beach

Our resto-mod RV, 2002 to present


Upholstery


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Story

Fabric Estimates

Videos

Foam Plan and Measurements

Story

I had put it off as long as I could. When we purchased the GMC in 2002, my first picture/post was the “interior before changes”. I fully expected at that time that re-upholstery would be one of the first tasks. Turns out I was much more drawn to mechanical, wood working, and carpeting than I to upholstery work. Probably because I have lots of experience in those areas and upholstery just seemed like magic. I have done lots of carpet work but it seemed such a leap from there to upholstery.

The timing was decided for me by The Great Squirrel Invasion of 2009! To make a very long story short, 2008 was a prolific year of nut production for the 200 trees in our yard. It was literally inches deep in many places with acorns, hickory and walnuts. In the winter between 08 and 09 squirrels absolutely took over our yard. Typically they are scarce and very territorial but with the abundance of food, there were probably 100 in our 2.5 acres. Without me noticing, a family of red squirrels chewed through the aluminum and wood flooring of the GMC inside my garage and set up shop. They absolutely filled every part of the interior with hickory nuts. It turned out to be enough to fill a 55 gallon trash container. They chewed up wiring, destroyed insulation, and most relevant to this post; they left unsanitary messes on all of the fabrics. There was no cleaning this to the level where I was willing to lay my head on these fabrics for a sleep. Out they come.

I did a lot of reading and scouring the interwebs for upholstery examples. I saw lots of examples of hot-rod style projects where the person was showing off their shop's capabilities more than showing you how to do things. I also did a lot of reading. I bought a few books and looked through library holdings. Nothing quite did enough. Finally, I found the SailRite instructional videos. It was right under my nose the whole time. As a sailor, I had watched several of their videos on sail making and repair. I followed their instructions and made a few boat cushions as practice. My wife still uses these on her office chair.

I purchased a machine similar to the SailRite Ultrafeed walking foot portable machine. After struggling with machine adjustments and setup, I purchased some manuals from Sailrite. In hindsight, I should have purchased the machine through them. Live and learn.

The following videos chronicle the process. I recorded as much as I could while still making progress. You will notice I skipped large parts of the process. These were typically frustrating parts where I had more to learn than show. The total project took just a few days over 2 months. I worked a few nights a week and some long weekend days and nights. In the end it was one of the most challenging projects I have done on the GMC but also the one that I am the most proud of.

Fabric Estimates

I upholstered all of the same locations as the original coach. I did the frames of the seats to the floor, all the way around even where they are against the wall. I measured each panel to the welting, added 2 inches to each seam. Assuming a 56 inch wide upholstery fabric. No additional was added for pattern match.

Front dinette seats: 115 inches, 3.2 yards

Davo Bunks: 154 inches, doubled to make the 84 inch wide (with a bit of waste) = 8.5 yrds

Rear Settee seat: 114 inches, 3.2 yds including front

Back panel 3 peices, 2.5 yrds

3.2+3.2_8.5+3.2_3.2+2.8 = 24.1

This does not cover the wall panels in the front of the coach like oem. The price was cheap at newtoto.com so we just ordered plenty extra. Will have enough to cover the lower walls if we choose, or to recover worn seats in the future.

I have seen others estimate as low as 16 yards for the entire coach but I believe those measurements must not include upholstering all of the OEM locations, or were for different configuration coaches. Your milage will definitely vary.

Videos

Part 1, Disassembly

Part 2, Rehab of the flexsteel frames from a 1977 GMC motorhome

Part 3, Foam cutting, sewing upholstery, first completed peice

Part 4, Assembly of seat base including foam, batting and final hog ring attachment

Part 5, Couch back, seat base and kick panel wrapping

Foam Plan and Estimates

























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About the Author: Mike Teets works at OCLC, Father of 3, outdoor sports enthusiast and builder/restorer of things
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